It was Monday. I managed to pee by myself in the bathroom, only to discover Seabass had pushed Sweet Chuck over from a sitting position and was slapping her head with both hands repeatedly while she cried. And I simply lost it.
Lost what? you ask, innocently. My mind. My dignity. My equanimity in the face of difficulty. It all went far, far, so very far away.
I sort of watched the scream coming, as if in slow motion. Here it comes I gotta hold this one back or it’s gonna be ugly and think about what the neighbors will think uh oh too late:
The scream was so long and from so deep in my gut that the kids were already crying by the end of it. Oh, they were so scared. All day long, I had been saying “Don’t do this” and “Don’t touch that” and “Don’t hit her” and “Stop grabbing” and “If I hear any more whining…” like a broken record. And finally, something new came out of my mouth. It got their attention, all right, but it wasn’t pretty.
After a few moments in which all three of us shed tears, I had the presence of mind to apologize. “Screaming is never okay, you guys. I am so sorry.” Then hugs all around. The creepy hugging-too-long-and-too-hard-because-Mama-feels-guilty sort.
Things haven’t really been the same since, especially between me and Seabass. He’s a little sullen and a lot sensitive. He might be obeying me more, but he’s not the sparkly, affectionate boy he was just a couple weeks ago. Did I ruin him forever? Will he have to join a 12-step group to recover?
I’ve told a couple fellow moms about the scream, expecting their jaws to drop in horror. Of course, they didn’t. One mom actually said, “Who among us hasn’t screamed?” And while it certainly helped, for the time being, I’d like to keep that question rhetorical. It would hurt too much to discover that, in fact, almost nobody acts this way.
Everything happens in cycles around here. One week we’re dancing in the living room every night, and the next week we’re weeping and gnashing our teeth in Gehenna. I used to blame it on Seabass. And while he certainly is a force to be reckoned with, it isn’t he who sets the tone in our home. It’s me. And that, my friends, is a lot of pressure for someone born of such mercurial stuff as I.
I’ve been working really hard since Monday to surrender my impatience and rage in exchange for peace and kindness, and it has worked decently well, but it won’t last. I’ll fail again.
How to overcome? No really. This is a question for which I’d seriously like an answer.
I commented to Jake the other night that our premarital counseling (required by many churches) from 11 years ago continues to bear fruit in our marriage today. I regularly think back on the words we read from the book As For Me And My House by Walter Wangerin, and apply them as needed. Surely parenting is as hefty a commitment as marriage; why don’t we encourage pre-parental counseling?